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Long-term Disability in Arizona

You might be wondering what a long-term disability really is and if you qualify for this benefit in the state of Arizona. Typically, your employer offers you a long-term disability (LTD) coverage as part of your employee benefits package when you are hired. Or you can purchase an individual long-term disability policy on your own. Having this package in place is essential if there ever comes a time when you need to file a claim for LTD.

Any employee who becomes unable to do his/her job duties can become eligible. Most employer-sponsored LTD plans require that you be a full-time employee at the time you become disabled. Then, there is a waiting period. Most LTD policies have an ‘elimination period’ between the time your disability occurs and when you can get benefits. These periods are often 3-6 months and can last the same length of time as any short-term disability policy that you may have. It is important to know that any short-term disability must be utilized before filing for the long-term disability.

Your employer’s HR department can provide a copy of the plan. Any application for LTD needs to be submitted timely, or it could result in a denial of your claim. Generally, it is best to ask your HR department for the policy’s definition of ‘disability.’ If you are unable to perform your job duties due to illness or injury, you can be declared totally disabled. If your policy provides for partial disability, you may be able to qualify for benefits if you can’t work full-time at your own job, but you could work elsewhere performing other job duties.

Though it is important to consider that two of the most important components of your LTD case are your medical records and your physician’s opinion regarding your limitations, be sure that you check with your doctor’s office that your records are correct. Then it is important to ask your physician to write a detailed report of your medical history and the current limitations.

There can also be some exclusions for pre-existing conditions in some LTD policies. The pre-existing condition can be an illness or injury that was diagnosed and/or treated within a certain period (typically 90-180 days) before the LTD coverage began. If you have such a condition, you probably cannot be paid for long-term disability benefits that arise from the pre-existing condition for the first 12 months of your LTD coverage. There can also be some medical conditions that may be excluded. Before you file an LTD claim, check with an Arizona disability attorney to be sure that your specific illness/injury is covered.

If you find out later that your LTD claim is denied, you can get one or two levels of administrative appeals. A disability attorney is highly recommended to work with you to get a more favorable response in the event of a denial of LTD benefits.

In Arizona, residents should consult with a disability attorney to determine if they can collect both LTD and Social Security benefits. If you have been approved for LTD benefits, you may be required to file for Social Security Disability benefits. Further, if you are receiving LTD benefits for an injury that occurred on the job, you may be required to file for Workers’ Compensation.

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